Monday, 6 April 2009

In which Time Passes

I had friends visiting this weekend, which was lovely – they arrived on Friday and we spent a highly convivial evening, with the aid of some very nice prosecco and 6 months of chatting to catch up on.

Saturday turned out to be a wonderfully sunny day so, after a leisurely breakfast we drove over to Stourhead, which is owned by the National Trust, and went for a walk around the park and gardens there. They have a lot of rhododendrons, some of which are flowering at present, as are the magnolia trees. There are hundreds of daffodils out and many of the trees are beginning to show new green leaves. We saw a pair of great crested grebes as well as coots and the more usual ducks, on the lake, and even spotted a deer up near the Obelisk, although it didn’t allow us to get very close. I think it was probably a roe deer, as it was too small for a red deer and the wrong colour to be a fallow deer.

Outside the pantheon (modelled on, but rather smaller than the original in Rome) several families were enjoying picnics, and several small children were enjoying chasing the ducks, who seemed extremely relaxed about it –they almost gave the impression that they were running away (well, waddling away) just out of a sense of obligation – the certainly didn’t appear at all worried! A solitary Canada Goose declined to be chased, and as it was almost as tall, if not as big as, the small children concerned they took the hint and the goose and children then proceeded to ignore one another.

After the exertions of our amble around the grounds we sustained ourselves with tea and cakes (something at which the National Trust excels)

For the evening, we had tickets to see ‘Waiting for Godot’ in Bath – so had booked a table at deMuths vegetarian restaurant for a pre-theatre meal. En Route, we came across some interesting Hare-themed sculptures – I’m not clear where the minotaur comes in, I don’t know of any Bath or Somerset legends involving minotaurs…

I am not a vegetarian, and with so many other tempting restaurants in Bath I hadn’t eaten there before, and had booked based on reputation (not to mention the fact that finding a decent vegetarian restaurant, or a restaurant with decent vegetarian options, is not always very easy)

We were not disappointed. I think for me the highlight was the starter of beetroot blinis with sesame roasted beetroot and herby cream cheese - absolutely delicious! Mains (sri lankan curry, mid-eastern platter & Indian thali) were also excellent, and the service was friendly and efficient without being rushed.

Bath Theatre Royal is a very nice little theatre – I have lots of happy memories of it as, with a couple of friends, I used to spend every Wednesday evening there during my 6th Form years – we would get a bus into Bath, get some chips to sustain us for the evening and spend a little time reading the stock in Waterstones before buying stand-by, standing room tickets to see whatever was showing, which, as lots of plays come to Bath as part of a pre-west end reparatory, meant that we got to see many excellent actors and great plays.
We are getting a little old to spend 2 ½ hours standing so had been proper adults and booked seats, this time.

As well as the memories – It is also a lovely little theatre – it was built in Bath’s hey-day, at the end of the 18th Century - the boxes clearly designed to allow their occupants to be seen far more than to see the stage, they face slightly in towards the auditorium and are well endowed with rococo gilding and red velvet!

The play: waiting for Godot’
The Cast:

Estragon : Ian McKellen
Vladimir : Patrick Stewart
Pozzo : Simon Callow
Lucky : Ronald Pickup
Boy : one of 2 local boys, each in their first acting job

I hadn’t realised, until we arrived and bought our programmes that Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup were in it – the advertising had all focused on Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. It made for a superb production – very funny in places – how often do you get to see 2 greats of the British Theatre, totally po faced, dancing and switching around 3 bowler hats? I think this is the first time that I have seen Simon Callow live, so that was a treat from me, too.

Well worth seeing - and over all a very satisfactory weekend!


Dragonsally said...

OMG, you saw 2 of my favorite 'statesmen' British actors in Waiting For Godot. How eerie -Pete and I were debating this very play the other night. I studied in in English Lit in sixth form, saw a live performance and absolutely loved it. Hang on, it might have been first year at uni? Pete studied it (without live performance and with average teachers) and hated it.

That first rhododendron is absolutely gorgeous

Siri said...

I grrr at the lack of decent theatre in the States.

Lovely flowers....

Marjorie said...

Sally, that is wierd! I had never read/studied it - booked on the strength of who was in it - I actually had expected it to be very bleak, and though it is in some respects, I hadn't realised it was funny too!

I'm very lucky in that a lot of rpoductions come to Bath before going on to London so we get some fantastic shows.

I was very impressed with the rhododendrons, too - I hadn't really realised before how complex they are.

Siri - is vicarious theatre-going any good to you? I suppose good touring thetre would be more expensive and tiring in the states becasue of the bigger distances involved - I can't believe it can be that people don't want it..

Siri said...

There aren't a lot of regional theatres close - we get broadway stuff at our civic center, but not with name actors. I spent 3 months in Oxford when I was in college, and almost every night I went to some production or another. It was special, and I think unique to Great Britian. Yes, I love vicarious going - keep telling me what you see!